Beth Melton: Government shutdown will soon have significant effects for Routt County families |

Beth Melton: Government shutdown will soon have significant effects for Routt County families

The federal government has been partially shut down since mid-December, affecting hundreds of thousands of workers across the country, including some here in Routt County. The effects of this shutdown will soon be felt even more directly by many local residents.

Approximately 410 households in Routt County access the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, each year. This program provides critical food assistance for individuals and families with the average recipient being a family with children receiving approximately $300 to $500 a month.

This federal source is only funded through February with February benefits to be paid out by Jan. 20. This means that by the end of February, these 400-plus households may be left without the ability to purchase groceries for themselves, their families and their children.

A recent press release from the Colorado Department of Human Services stated, “If the shutdown continues, local food banks and social service agencies may see an influx of clients who are seeking aid elsewhere.” The department also encouraged communities to donate funds or volunteer their time at local food banks or social service agencies.

Locally, the most important organization we can support is LiftUp of Routt County, as they will be the primary food and emergency resource assistance agency for those affected. They will need help in all forms — food donations, monetary donations and volunteers.

In addition, those in need of meals may consider contacting the Routt County Council on Aging, Holy Name Catholic Church and Heart of Steamboat Springs United Methodist Church who provide meals on a weekly basis. Routt County Human Services is encouraging eligible families to apply for benefits even during the shutdown, as applications can continue to be processed and ready to go once funding is available again.

Beth Melton

The opinions herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Routt County or other members of the Board of County Commissioners.

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